AUGUSTA — University of Maine at Augusta officials provided more information Wednesday about next year’s budget and took questions from staff and students about cuts and planning for the future.
UMA will make $2.7 million in reductions, part of an effort across Maine’s public university system to close a $36 million budget gap.
“That will grow exponentially unless we make dramatic changes as a system,” UMA President Allyson Handley said.
UMA’s budget of $36 million eliminates 24 faculty and staff jobs, 10 of which are occupied, as well as 40 class sections taught by adjunct instructors, the equivalent of another five full-time jobs.
About 45 people attended the presentation in Jewett Hall, and more watched it via webstream from the Bangor campus and elsewhere.
People in the audience asked about the prospects for students in academic programs that will be phased out in the next three to four years, particularly the associate degree in nursing.
Handley said all students currently enrolled in the program or on a waiting list will have the opportunity to earn the degree at UMA. The university also is working on an agreement with the University of Maine at Fort Kent that would allow students to take the first year of a bachelor’s degree in nursing at UMA, then finish the degree at UMFK.
In addition, UMA will continue to offer a bachelor’s completion program for registered nurses who enroll.
Vice President of Finance and Administration Tim Brokaw said more costly health insurance premiums and raises given to employees in new labor contracts would have increased personnel costs by nearly $2 million. By cutting 24 jobs and reducing the hours of 33 employees, UMA will save about $1.7 million in pay and benefits.
UMA also is suffering from declining enrollment. The university exceeded enrollment projections for years but has fallen short of the projections in this year’s budget by 4.8 percent.
This story will be updated.